NCAA Final Four Selection

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Phoenix has been named the host site for the 2017 NCAA Basketball Final Four Tournament. Dawn Rogers, Arizona State University’s senior associate athletic director and chair of the Phoenix Selection Committee and Mark Stanton, Deputy Director of the Arizona Office of Tourism, will discuss the impact of the selection.

Ted Simons: Well, it's official, the 2017, NCAA final four college basketball tournament will be held here in the valley. Joining us tonight to talk about the importance and impact of hosting this major event is Dawn Rogers, ASU's senior associate athletic director and chair of the selection committee, and Mark Stanton, deputy director of the Arizona office of tourism. Good to have you both here. Thanks for joining here.

Ted Simons: What did Phoenix win?

Dawn Rogers: So we won the right to host the 2017, NCAA men's basketball championship, and which means on Saturday night, we will host two-self games, and on Monday night we will host the championship game for, for the year, and there are other events that surround the final four, and there are different community service events, and there is open practices for the public, and so you really have a Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday, four days of entertainment. There is a music festival, so there is bracket town, and everything around the games for even people that don't have tickets.

Ted Simons: And a lot of attention, which is good news on your end, correct? This is huge news.

Mark Stanton: Basically, in our opinion, this is a fortune 500 sporting event, and to have that cap off three years of excitement, you have got the Super Bowl, the final four, and really, between the, the number of visitors that are going to come in during that period of time, and the national and international media exposure, we could not be more excited about the opportunities for economic development and for the attention to the brand of Arizona.

Ted Simons: I want to get back to the how much impact it really has economically in a second, but why was the valley chosen?

Dawn Rogers: I think we were chosen for a number of reasons. I think we put together a fantastic bid that highlighted not only our state of the art facility, but then the hospitality across the valley, so it's a wonderful package of hotel options and restaurants and we call then different epicenters of activity, so when you look at downtown Phoenix and you look at Tempe, when you look at the surrounding, you know, Glendale and Mesa and everything that they bring with their unique west flavor, I think that it was a chance to bring the event west, which hasn't been in the west since 1995, so there were a lot of reasons to come here, and I think the biggest one was that we showed a collaborative community that had a great plan to execute this iconic event. And, and there was no reason to not bring it to Phoenix.

Ted Simons: I was going to say, I know that the expanded convention center downtown, with the hotel rooms and all sorts of things, makes a difference?

Mark Stanton: It makes a huge difference. When dawn described between the partners and ASU and the bureaus that work together, and all the other partners that showcase what Arizona has to offer and the quality of life that we have to bring to the table, but infrastructure that we have now, with the convention center and with the lightrail and with so many of these things that these host committees need to showcase, Arizona really came out well on top. If you think about how the NCAA made this commitment, really, that shows the ongoing testimony to the recovery of Arizona's economy. You are looking at an investment down the road, and they see that Arizona has the infrastructure, and the opportunity, so we're very thrilled.

Ted Simons: And previous attempts, is this something as simple as not enough hotel rooms? Does that make a difference? Or in other efforts to bring, as you mentioned Fortune 500 events to the valley?

Mark Stanton: I think it's all sort of package, we have got a number of new things, amenities, lightrail, more hotel rooms, this convention center, and you have got all these hotels and that have popped up on the landscape and all the incredible retail opportunities that have worked out and the different municipalities that have worked together that have brought together all their elements from infrastructure for traffic plans, and to, of course, the hotel and all the other opportunities that build out the opportunity for these events to see the convention and the opportunity.

Ted Simons: And why did this -- I know we tried before, the valley has tried before.

Dawn Rogers: We did.

Ted Simons: Why did this work and the others didn't?

Dawn Rogers: I think that we had a more collaborative effort this time. For example, during the site visit for the 2008 presentation, we were doing a hard-hat tour for the convention center, which was not fully -- the expansion wasn't fully completed, and the lightrail was just -- I don't think that it was running yet. We were pointing to tracks, and we were talking about capacity, and we have increased our hotel beds, and we exceeded the 10,000 minimum beds requested for the event. And so, when they came this time, I think that they saw just a more collaborative effort. They saw the investment in downtown, the additional things that have opened in Glendale. It just felt different. It felt different for us as a local organizing committee. And many of us were the same people that presented in 2008, and the collaboration was different, and we have a great track record now. We were not pointing to what the University of Phoenix would be, we were pointing to the events that they have successfully hosted the awards that they have won. There was a great competent that, indeed, we could do that.

Ted Simons: You mentioned collaboration a number of times, in the past, not necessarily on these bids, but on these kinds of things, and you had cities, kind of hunkering down and what's in it for me? Do you find more of that collaboration, and if so, why do you think that that is?

Dawn Rogers: We felt more collaboration, and I think that the biggest reason is that we started two years ago. Tom Sadler, who has been a huge part, as to who has really taken the leadership role, in this process, he pulled everyone together two years ago. We talked about did we want to bid again? This is what it looks like. There are many people in the valley that haven't been to a time four. We take it for granted, and have been to ten final fours, and you don't realize that people don't understand that it's a Saturday and a Monday, that there is a music festival, bracket town, and so, as we expose different communities, and they asked a lot of great questions, there was a quick realization that this is a huge event for the, the whole State of Arizona, and it really made sense for us to work together and put together a great bid.

Ted Simons: How do you convince the municipalities? We have heard Glendale is concerned regarding how they are going to be paid for, and how they are going to get the money back as far as the security. And you get these kinds of concerns. How do you get passed that and how do you -- the entire State of Arizona is supposed to benefit, how much does the State of Arizona benefit when, when Mesa is going, what's in it for me?

Mark Stanton: I think that you have to look at the bigger picture of what these events do for the economy statewide and what it does to promote the image and the brand of Arizona. Both domestically and internationally, there is a solid economic impact. And we know that there is going to be visitation, and we know the hoteliers will benefit and the municipalities will benefit and the retailers, but there are going to be thousands and thousands of journalists from around the world beginning this January all the way through the time four, and every one of those is looking for stories and talking about Arizona, both leading up to the events, during the events and after these events, and that's a great opportunity for, for everyone in the state to talk about the Arizona story. To talk about the Arizona brand and to talk about the fact that our economy is on the rebound, and that an event like the final four decides that Arizona is a place to, to participate, and that's a big benefit for everybody in the state.

Ted Simons: Are there metrics, and how do you quantify what the impact really is? Again, it's somewhat controversial. There are folks who say it does not bring in nearly as much as folks like you say.

Mark Stanton: I think that there are a number of metrics that are going to be in place. There are economic impact studies. The partners are looking at ways to track this, welsh the hotels are tracking that. We're going to see a number of retail numbers and taxes and that type of thing, but we're going to see, as I mentioned before, this exposure, you look at the viewership of all the networks that are going to be covering these events, CBS, for the time four, and receive for the Super Bowl. So, you are going to be seeing all these viewer numbers that are going to reflect what the exposure is of Arizona, and that can easily be equated to advertising value, and that type of a metric. There will be many things that are in place that, again, most importantly this is an opportunity to tell the Arizona story.

Ted Simons: So, last question, what's next in all of this? What needs to be planned and done?

Dawn Rogers: Well, I got off the phone with the NCAA today so we are setting up our first meetings, and we'll look at a time line that, that gears up two years out from the event so we will go to Indianapolis and we'll take a larger group with us. We will really be in the weeds, and we'll come back and we'll begin our time line for hosting, and so we have a little bit of a breather, although I think that we're excited and ready to jump in and start yesterday. We'll really gear up in April with our time line.

Ted Simons: All right, very good, and congratulations. Good luck and congratulations.

Dawn Rogers:Senior Associate Athletic Director and Chair, Arizona State University and Phoenix Selection Committee; Mark Stanton:Deputy Director, Arizona Office of Tourism;

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